Fall is one of the best times of the year, and not just because the weather begins to cool off and the leaves turn amazing colors. Fall is the time of year we turn our hearts toward deeper things, and actually focus on gratitude and thankfulness. I know it’s something that we should be focusing on throughout the year, but the holiday season tends to bring it to the forefront of our attention.
It isn’t easy to cultivate this attitude of gratitude within our families and homes in the day that we live. For the most part this thinking seems counter – cultural – or against mainstream thought. Our society tends to be so very “me” focused which is extremely sad. American culture was built on the sacrifice and bravery of our ancestors…not to mention the foundation of the Word of God. My heart cries for a return to these foundations, a return to the fundamentals of kindness and thinking of others more than ourselves. As parents we can do much to help our children by living the example and by taking time to listen to our children.
The bottom line question is: how can we encourage thankfulness, gratitude, and selflessness in our children?
- Practice it. Living as examples before our children supports the thinking that “more is caught than taught.” Show your kids with your actions that thinking of others is an important part of life. Practical ways to do this could be to frequently think of ways you can “help” your neighbors, friends, or even colleagues. Go out of your way to mow your neighbor’s grass (with permission if needed). Or, offer to take an elderly family member to the doctor or help out a military family who has a loved one in active service. The holiday season is a great time to think of even deeper ways you could meet other people’s needs. We can see this practical example in the life of Jesus. Though He was the Savior of the world, God in flesh, He still knelt to wash the disciple’s feet. Putting others first isn’t easy, takes practice, but it makes such a difference!
- Plan it. Have a family talk and purpose to say something kind or express a grateful attitude or kindness to someone else every day. Plan out ways to be helpful or to show your thankfulness to others. It might be helpful to use a “organizational chart” at first just to help everyone track and see how the attitude of gratitude can be such a blessing. Don’t underestimate the impact one act of kindness can have on someone’s life.
- Get others involved. This attitude doesn’t have to stop with you or your family. Find ways to get friends involved or even your local homeschool co-op group. Plan and organize an event where others can see that expressing thankfulness or going out of their way to make a difference in someone’s life can truly make a difference in your own life!